(director: Lynne Davison; screenwriter: Matt Harvey; cinematographer: Conor Rotherham; editor: Sean Keeley; music: Andrew Simon McAllister; cast:  Deidre Mullins (Cathy Madden), Derbhle Crotty (Mary Laidlaw), Paul Kennedy (Jason Reed), Jude Hill (Luke), Seamus O”Hara (Thomas); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marie-Therese Mackle; A Shudder release; 2022-UK)

“Disturbing indie Irish folk horror pic.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Northern Ireland born filmmaker Lynne Davison (“The Last Woman”/”Ghost Machine”) directs her feature debut film, with a feminist undertone, and Matt Harvey efficiently scripts this low-budget disturbing indie Irish folk horror pic, set in Northern Ireland, involving witchcraft, forest rituals with screaming mandrakes and killings of children.

In a rural small town, the parole officer Cathy Madden(Deidre Mullins), a divorced single mom, is a dedicated servant of the people who believes in doing good by helping to rehab her ex-con clients back into society. She’s hurt that her son Luke (Jude Hill) connects more with his stepmother than with her and that she’s no longer physically able to give birth.

Cathy takes on as a client, the just released after serving time in prison for twenty years, Mary Laidlaw (Derbhie Crotty), a crusty fifty-something, who killed her abusive husband in self-defense and is known in the area as “Bloody Mary.” No one else in Cathy’s office will take her case because they think she’s a witch, so Cathy volunteers.

Mary is into herbs, forest plants and mandrakes.

When two children near Mary’s farm go missing, even the parole officer wonders about her guilt.

It’s set in winter, where the atmosphere is just as grey as the narrative. In this grim story, there’s always a sense of doom and gloom present.

The two female actresses excel, in a film that succeeds despite not succeeding all the way–as it leaves us with an unclear conclusion after unloading its surprising subplots

It played at the Glasgow Film Festival.